Mary Eliza Ireland
A bachelor gray, was Valentine Brown;
He lived in a mansion just out of the town,
A mansion spacious and grand;
He was wealthy as Vanderbilt, Astor or Tome,
Had money invested abroad and at home,
And thousands of acres of land.
A friend of his boyhood was Archibald Gray;
And to prove what queer antics Dame Fortune will play
When she sets about trying to plan,
She heaped all her favors on Valentine, bold,
And always left Archibald out of her fold,
The harmless, and weak-minded man.
So, while Valentine reigned like a king on his throne,
Poor Archibald ne'er had a home of his own,
Yet never was known to complain;
Year in and year out, he wandered around,
In mansion and farmhouse a welcome he found
As long as he chose to remain.
The lilacs and snowballs which guarded the door
Of the ivy-decked cottage of good Parson Moore,
Were waking from out their long sleep;
For the last month of winter was hastening by,
The last hours of Valentine's day had drawn nigh,
When Archibald's travel-worn feet
Were heard on the door-step; he entered and smiled,
Then sat down and slept like a play-weary child,
Woke, and told them how long he would stay;
Then slumbered again, while sweet Dorothy Moore,
The motherless daughter, who loved all God's poor,
Made him welcome around the tea-tray.
And archly she said as she gave him his tea,
'Where's the valentine Archy, you promised to me?
All maidens expect one to-day;'
Then forgot it; nor noticed when supper was done,
And her father had gone to his study alone,
That Archie had stolen away.
But, drawing the curtains on darkness and night!
She sat down to spin by the cheery fire-light,
While before it, so cozy and warm,
Slept the kitten,-a snowy white ball of content-
And her wheel, with its humming activity, lent
To the hour, a picturesque charm.
No scene more enchanting could artist dream know,
Than this peaceful, calm spot, in the ruby-red glow
Of the pine knots aflame on the hearth;
But Dorothy thought, 'Were he but there with me
And loved me as I love, a desert would be
The happiest place upon earth.'
'Oh were he but poor, and forsaken;' she sighed,
'He then a poor maiden might seek for his bride,
But his love will some great lady crown;
Since all is so hopeless, dear Father above
Oh help me to cast out my unreturned love!
And forget the proud Valentine Brown.'
In his elegant library, sat Valentine Brown,
The argand burned brightly, the rich curtains down,
Luxurious home of repose;-
Yet his handsome face saddened, his heart was oppressed;
He sighed, and his spirit was full of unrest,
For his love he should never disclose.
He had roamed over Europe, and Countesses fair
Had graciously smiled on the great millionaire.
Yet his heart had turned coldly away;
'From her childhood, I've loved her, sweet Dorothy Moore,'
Just then the latch clicked-through the half opened door
Crept humbly, poor Archibald Gray.
'I want you!' he whispered; 'I promised her, come!'
And Valentine followed, till reaching the home
Where Dorothy spun by the hearth;
And when he had entered with Archibald Gray
And courteously waited, commands to obey,
Knew no lovelier picture on earth.
But the tact which had piloted Valentine there
Deserted poor Archie; then Dorothy fair,
Blushing deeply, yet smilingly said:
'Why, Archibald, why did you leave us I pray?
You said till to-morrow at noon, you would stay,
And in less than an hour you had fled.'
The memory of Archibald took up the clew
Thus kindly supplied, and eager he grew;
'Yes, yes; Archie promised he would;
I have brought you a valentine, Valentine Brown,'
(Here he smoothed his gray beard, and looked helplessly down),
'He's so good to poor Archie, so good!'
The three stood in silence, two wondering no doubt
How this intricate problem would ever turn out,
And Valentine, thoughtful and kind,-
Felt pity for Archie, who meant for the best;
And for Dorothy-flushing like clouds in the west
And fearing he thought it designed.
He looked at the maiden-modest and sweet;
At her lovely blue eyes, her peach-blossom cheek
And sighed for his youth which had fled;
'She never could love me, good Archibald Gray,
Her beauty and youthfulness stand in the way,
Just look at my frost-covered head.'
'Please tell him, good Archie,' said Dorothy fair,
'That I love nothing better than silvery hair
When it crowns one so noble and true;
His heart all men say is exalted and grand,
He is known for his good deeds all over the land,
Loved by every one, equalled by few.'
'That heart, my good Archie, I lay at her feet
To spurn or to thrill with an ecstasy sweet;'
(And he reverently took her white hand,)
'That hand is his, Archie, and so is my heart
To have and to keep until death do us part
To meet in the Heavenly land.'
Good friends new and old, should you journey that way
And should anything happen, to cause a delay,
And you call upon Valentine Brown:
In the coziest nook, you'll see Archibald Gray,
Awaiting with patience the dallying day,
Till the sickle of Time mows him down.
And Fortune still favors her Valentine dear,
She winters and summers there year after year;
To thank her he never forgets;
With his rosy-cheeked children and beautiful wife
The heart of his heart, and the life of his life,
The sun of his peace never sets.
Mary Eliza Ireland's Other Poems
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